Earlier, we published news about New York opening a blockchain center despite the unending crypto market downturn. Did you know that New York City isn’t the only place that can provide an environment conducive for blockchain startups’ growth and further implementation of new technologies?
Smart cities have been around for a while. Bletchley Park (Buckinghamshire, UK) is considered to be the first successful attempt to create a dedicated location for the newest technologies to be implemented in every area of its citizens’ lives. A special team developed decryption technologies and eventually created the world’s first programmable digital electronic computer there – just think of it! – in 1946.
The IT world has gone much further since the middle of the 20th century. The modern smart cities of today make use of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), big data analysis, the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and, of course, the blockchain.
Boyd Cohen, the dean of research at EADA Business School, Barcelona, and co-founder of IoMob and the Blockchain Cities Alliance, made a report on the smart cities that are most friendly towards blockchain startups. We’ve decided to take a closer look at these centers and see which one is best suited for crypto startups. If you want to launch your own blockchain-oriented startup and are lucky enough to live in one of them (or have enough funds to move there), then you are ahead of most people and are in a great position!
The Asian market is especially susceptible to new technologies, and Singapore is at the forefront of all innovations. The local project Smart Nation Strategy works hard on transforming the former settlement of fishers and plowmen into the world’s leading center of innovation.
Although cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in this region, Singapore is the home to many initial coin offerings (ICOs), as the authorities there work out special legislation to regulate fundraising for IT startups. Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), released a guide for companies willing to raise funds via ICO.
Bitcoin is not subject to taxation in Singapore, and neither are the capital gains in crypto. The proximity of China with its severe regulations on cryptocurrencies provides the country with a steady inflow of experienced entrepreneurs and English language used at the official level makes it easier for the specialists from Western countries to join the party.
So far, Singapore provides the most fruitful environment for blockchain-oriented startups and all those who want to make cryptocurrencies an integral part of their lives.
The UK was one of the first European countries to embrace blockchain innovations in the financial sector. Although cryptocurrencies are still not legal tender there, the government created favorable conditions for blockchain-based startups. Crypto exchanges have to register with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The number of startups registered in London is quite large and makes the capital of Great Britain the world’s second largest home to blockchain-oriented companies. The only downside of this area is the cost of living, as London is one of the most expensive cities in Europe.
A small Swiss hamlet with a population below 30,000 is called the “Crypto Valley” and offers a friendly environment for 450+ startups, including such well-known names as Ethereum Foundation, Tezos, Bitfinex, Cardano and many more.
Cryptocurrencies are fully legalized in Zug, and the government has even worked out a blockchain identity solution and accepts bitcoin (BTC) for some types of services.
#4. New York
It would be very surprising if one of the largest cities and one of the leading economies in the world didn’t take a top spot on the list with their acceptance of new financial technologies. New York hosts many blockchain startups including the Brooklyn-based spinoff of the Ethereum Foundation Consensys and its more than 1,000 employees working to develop scalable blockchain solutions.
The presence of such a huge undertaking in the area has attracted other industry representatives, including Gemini and Paxos, the crypto exchanges famous for launching their own stable coins. With the NYC Blockchain Resource Center launching in May 2018, the environment in this area has become even more friendly towards crypto startups. Also, the city conducts different crypto conferences, summits and other blockchain events on practically a monthly basis which attracts more experts from all over the world.
#5. San Francisco
Silicon Valley has been a foothold for many IT startups long before blockchain technologies stepped into the spotlight. Such IT giants as Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Dropbox, Stripe and Slack are all located in the San Francisco area. And it’s no wonder that the region has favorably accepted new financial startups that provide talented specialists with access to numerous investors.
Currently, there are more than 100 blockchain startups operating in the area. The only disadvantage to Silicon Valley is the cost of living; the average rental price in San Francisco is in excess of 3,600 USD.
Berlin is famous for being the first true place in the word that accepted BTC as payment. Rom 77, a small bar in the city’s Kreuzberg district, started accepting bitcoins in 2014. The city itself hasn’t remained idle as it has been doing its best to make new technologies an integral part of its citizens’ lives. From the regulatory friendliness and government transparency perspective, Berlin holds one of the top positions in Europe. In fact, it hosts many blockchain summits and provides one of the best environments for fintech (financial technology) startups and ICOs.
The capital of Estonia is famous not only for its beautiful cityscape and medieval architecture. It also has a powerful digital footprint as it hosts many IT companies and supports blockchain startups. Tallinn runs an e-residency program that allows anyone to start a digital enterprise in the city.
However, Estonia does have strict cryptocurrency regulations that aim to prevent money-laundering. But with their clear laws on cryptocurrencies, the country provides fertile ground for the growth of blockchain startups.
This Canadian city located on the Western shore of Lake Ontario is the home to the Blockchain Research Institute, an international think tank focusing on blockchain technologies. Another huge IT company based in this region, Blockchain Canada, aims to connect blockchain communities and give them the chance to perform innovative work on new technology.
Toronto is also home to Ethereum’s founder and inventor Vitalik Buterin. Other blockchain projects based in this region are Syscoin, Decentral, Blockchain Mind, Jaxx, Polymath, Aion and many more.
Although all forms of crypto payments are prohibited in the UAE, the region is still intent on making use of new and emerging financial technologies.
Dubai is a huge modern city that was built literally right in the middle of a desert in only 50 years. It hosts more than 100 IT companies including around 20 blockchain projects such as Block Gemini. These projects cover multiple areas such as health care records, the real estate sector, identity, visa processing, artificial intelligence and many more. Also, Dubai holds one of the world’s most famous blockchain summits gathering numerous blockchain experts under one roof.
#10. Hong Kong
Although China has officially banned ICOs and anything related to cryptocurrencies at all official levels, it is still open to new technologies, including the blockchain. It is home to many famous exchange platform names in the cryptocurrency industry like OKEx, BTCC, and Paxful, the cryptocurrency wallet Cryptonator and the startup UBI Blockchain which is partnering with the local government. Public initiatives such as The Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Blockchain Society stand their ground here “bridging blockchain with the real world.”
Belarus is set to become an IT-country, having one of the most progressive laws on crypto in the world. For instance, crypto transactions are exempt from tax here, but at the same time, a high level of transparency is expected here, as well as exceptional professional levels in key positions. However, the Belarusian government is planning to turn the big cities of the country – and especially its capital Minsk – into smart cities, which was already started with ambitious projects like the establishment of High Technology Parks.
The old world always stands against new technologies. Whatever innovation you offer to the market, you will likely experience many roadblocks before it gets accepted and implemented on a grand scale.
Cryptocurrencies are a perfect example of such technology. There is no consistent legislation around the world that would regulate such a vigorously developing area and not have issues with it. However, some small pockets of wide acceptance can already be found – mostly in Europe, the US and a few select Asian countries. These places provide blockchain startups with conditions that are necessary for their growth. And although even in these locations everything isn’t totally perfect in terms of legalization, you can be sure that they will be the first ones to address and resolve any related issues.
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